Stephan, Rita. 2019. “Not-So-Secret Weapons: Lebanese Women’s Rights Activists and Extended Family Networks.” Social Problems, Volume 66, Issue 4: 609–625 This study asks one crucial question: How do Lebanese women apply available social capital and informal social networks to engage in political activism for women’s rights? Building on social- and women’s-movement theories, I argue that Lebanese feminists do not exclusively operate in the public sphere in their fight for political goals, nor do they privilege only the extra-family space. On the contrary, they engage in political activities by using extended family networks as a form of weak social ties. I construct this argument on the basis of interviews, observations, and analysis of Lebanese feminists’ writings. This paper introduces the concept of mahsoubieh as a form of weak social ties generated within connective family networks. Specifically, I examine how elite, intellectual, and middle-class Lebanese women activists use the positive social capital generated by mahsoubieh to gain credibility, diffuse their political stances, and develop countervailing power. Aspects such as the size, reputation, and respectability of their kinship networks aided the Lebanese women in their fight to change the legal structure concerning women’s rights and political representation.
Stephan, Rita and Mounira M. Charrad, eds., 2020. Women Rising: In and Beyond the Arab Spring, New York: New York University Press. Women Rising brings together groundbreaking essays by female activists and scholars documenting women’s resistance before, during, and after the Arab Spring. In this timely volume, Stephan and Charrad paint a picture of women’s first-hand experiences in sixteen countries. Contributors provide insight into a diverse range of perspectives across the entire movement, focusing on often marginalized voices, including rural women, housewives, students, and artists. Women Rising offers an in-depth understanding of an important twenty-first century movement, telling the story of Arab women’s activism. See also: Charrad, Mounira M.& Amina Zarrugh. 2020. “Women are Complete, not Complements: Terminology in a New Constitution in Tunisia.” in Women Rising: In and Beyond the Arab Spring, R. Stephan & M. M. Charrad, eds., New York: New York University Press.
Charrad, Mounira M. & Rita Stephan. 2020. “The Power of Presence: Professional Women Leaders and Family Law Reform in Morocco.” Social Politics, Volume 27, Issue 2: 337–360, doi.org/10.1093/sp/jxz013. The 2004 reforms of Islamic family law in Morocco brought about a long-awaited expansion of women’s rights. The Moroccan women’s movement was a key player in the promulgation of the reforms. We highlight the role of professional women leaders in the movement and show how they developed political capital and the “power of presence” by combining (i) professional attainment, (ii) leadership in women’s organizations, and (iii) active participation or positions in politics and civil society. We suggest that more needs to be understood about the implications of women’s education and professional attainment for legal change, especially in the Middle East.
Charrad, Mounira M. & Nicholas Reith. 2019. “Local Solidarities: How the Arab Spring Protests Started.” Mounira M. Charrad & Nicholas Reith. Sociological Forum.34: 1174-1196. doi:10.1111/socf.12543 Coming as a surprise to most observers and following the self‐immolation of a street vendor in a remote town of central Tunisia, the Jasmine Revolution of 2010–2011, the first uprising of the Arab Spring, has often been seen as a success story for digital communication through widespread use of social media. We suggest that this applied to the later phase of the protests in Tunisia but not to the initial phase, which occurred in local areas in impoverished and marginalized regions with highly limited access to the Internet. The initial phase lasted a full 10 days before the protests reached major cities where social media operated. Building on Tilly’s concept of trust network, we offer the concept of local solidarities as key to the beginning of the Arab Spring uprisings and as encompassing spatial proximity, shared marginalized status, and kinship, all of which combined to serve as a basis for trust and collective action.